Over Wintering Dahlias

Asked January 9, 2018, 10:37 PM EST

I have had Dahlias for several years. I have dug them in the fall and then planted them in dirt in a planter to store in my basement. This year, for the first time, the Dahlias have started to grow in the pot in the basement. Is this ok? Should I dig the bulbs, cut off the growth and replant or should I just leave them alone?

Hennepin County Minnesota

3 Responses


Thank you for your question.

I consulted with a Master Gardener who specializes in dahlias and here is her response...

"My first answer would be “why she plant them in soil????” Never seen that recommendation anywhere! If she’s got grow lights or a really sunny window in a warm place (not the basement), she could let them grow. They’ll get really leggy if they don’t have enough light. Keep pinching and root/plant the tips for more plants. I think now that they’re growing they’re starting to deplete the bulb, so they need light and water to start photosynthesis. And the recommendation would be not do that again to overwinter dahlia tubers."

Hope this helps.

Got your reply. I got this tip from either Linders or Grow with Kare years ago. I’ve used it successfully with these bulbs for probably 6 years. I don’t have a window to put these in as I have houseplants already in them.

What at would be the recommendation for overwintering Dahlias.


Digging and Storing Dahlias

  1. Wait until we have a frost, which will kill the foliage.
  2. Trim the foliage.
  3. Dig the tender root structure. You need to dig all the way around the plant and loosen the soil before lifting the root out of the soil. Be gentle so you don’t bruise the root. Diseases can enter a plant easily via a bruise or cut.
  4. Wash the root structure with a hose to remove the soil.
  5. Cure the root. The curing period should be 1 to 3 days depending on the temperature. Curing should be done out of direct sunlight and in an area with higher humidity i.e.: basement. This will insure that they don’t dry out too much and crack.
  6. Store them in a slightly moist medium like peat moss at a temperature between 35 and 45 degrees. A box or plastic bag with ventilation is ideal.
  7. Mark the container with the specific name/color/species of the Dahlia(s) so when Spring comes know what you’re planting.